Building A Competitive League

I wanted to write something short for a change so decided to write about something I do to try to improve my league. One of the challenges for me when playing Football Manager is me trying to stay interested in a save long enough. It doesn’t matter if I start in the lower divisions and work my way up or start as a top team, sooner or later the game becomes far too easy and winning the league becomes really easy and no-one can really catch me. So I have to think of ways to get around this and stop me from becoming bored. One of these methods I have come up with (I know others who do this too) is to build a competitive league.

It might seem unusual to some of you, that I actually set out to strengthen the other sides in my league by developing players to sell to the other sides in my league. By doing this I raise the standard of the league and it becomes more competitive domestically for me and more often than not, it helps the other teams in my league become more competitive on the continent too which helps raise the league’s reputation.

Here are a few of the things I do;

Buy Cheap players.
Develop Players.
Sell Players.

It’s a simple enough strategy it seems but it goes into a bit more detail than that but that is the main gist of what I do. Let’s take a look at each section in a bit more detail.

Buying Players

Due to me liking the player development route in Football Manager, after a while money doesn’t matter to me at all and I end up stockpiling it and never really spend it. When this happens I start to look around for cheap youth players who I believe might become decent players in a few years. If I find any candidates then I’ll buy them for as cheap as possible, I tend to set myself a limit of not spending more than £3 million for a single player. One of the reasons for this is I am buying the player to develop and then sell on to someone else in my league and I should be able to recoup most if not all of the initial £3 million paid out when this happen.

When buying players I take their wage into consideration, so it needs to be as low as possible due to me planning to sell them on at some point. The lower the wage the better as it will mean more teams can afford his wages when I sell them on. As I currently play in the top division in Brazil, I tend to not pay more than £5k in wages, ideally though that is the maximum and I prefer to pay under this. If the player wants more than the £5k limit I have set myself I will look elsewhere and move on because it’s not worth it long-term.

Things like additional fees in the actual contracts and sell on clauses are something else I try to avoid as well. Again the reason for this is at some point I want to recoup the money I’ve paid out so the more money I can save by avoiding extras in the contract negotiations the better. Sell on clauses will also mean any kind of profit I can get for the player would be minimal, so avoiding stuff like this is of importance.

Developing Players

I’ve done lots of articles on player development before so you’ll know how I approach training. The process is the exact same even for the players I’ve bought and plan to sell on. In fact, every single player who is at the club (including youth intakes) is treated the same way and developed the best way I can no matter how rubbish they may seem. While a player is at my club he represents the club even if I have no plans on them ever been used in my own first team but I still spend time teaching them player preferred moves, having them tutored and developing their attributes.

The reason for going to these lengths is it’s what I’d expect to happen in real life so it adds a dimension of realism to the game for me. It also help that other clubs might be interested in them if I spend a few minutes on their training schedules and development process. If I think certain attributes are weak then I’ll focus on them just like I do for my first eleven. Or if I think a role schedule is best for them, then I’ll put them on a role schedule.

Selling Players

Selling players is not as straight forward as you might think when I’m taking this approach, they’re a few things I need to consider before deciding what deal is the best as each club will be treated differently. The things I need to consider are;

Clubs reputation
League finishes the past 3 seasons

Those are a few factors for me to consider when a bid is made.

Club Reputation

This goes a long way to me deciding if I’ll sell to this team or not. In the league I am currently in there is a few teams who are the same reputation as me or slightly bigger. So initially I might not even consider a bid from these type of teams because I want to focus on strengthening the weaker sides in the league to make the gap between bottom and top teams smaller. If I sell to these types of clubs then I’d be making that gap bigger and not doing what I originally set out to do so I avoid selling to the bigger clubs is possible.

League Finishes

This might seem a weird one to a few of you but I use this to gauge the average position a club is likely to finish rather than basing it on one season because any team can have one good or bad season. If I have two bids for a player and one is from a team near the top and one from a side near the bottom, then I’ll accept the bid from the lesser club and reject the one from the higher positioned club. Again this is to ensure I am strengthening the teams who need it the most.


This is slightly more complex because this impacts what type of deal I am willing to accept from a club. If I know the club has money then I’ll be more likely to want an upfront fee. If a side is quite restricted in their finances and can’t afford much then I’ll be less likely to want any upfront fee. What I do for teams who have poor finances is sell them the player for nothing but add a 50% sell on fee. That way the player gets moved on and if the buying club sell him at a later date I will recoup some of the initial fee that I laid out for the player and in most cases I end up making a profit.

If the side who is buying aren’t struggling for money but don’t have much either I tend to do a slightly different kind of deal for those clubs. I’ll accept some kind of initial fee and then add a 30% sell on clause as they can afford to pay some kind of fee straight up.

The clauses I add are as follows;

If I sell to a top side for some reason then the initial fee will be high with a 15% sell on clause.
If I sell to a mid table kind of club then it’s a small initial fee and 35% sell on clause.
If I sell to a bottom 8 side then it’s no initial fee and 50% sell on clause

The clauses I add must be percentage of next sale and not percentage of profit from next sale or you risk losing out on more money.

I’ve took this approach since I can remember, it must be the best part of fifteen years now and something that I will continue to do in the future. It makes the game more challenging in future seasons if other sides are strong, it makes for a very competitive league.

Does anyone else do similar or do something to make their own games more interesting? If so I’d love to hear in the comments section below 🙂

8 thoughts on “Building A Competitive League”

  1. I recently picked it up somewhere that you do this and it made me curious. Nice you wrote an article about it. It’s definitely something I’ll try in one of my saves – I like the idea of strengthening a league as a whole to raise reputation and international competitiveness. Maybe I’d drop the “bottom teams first” approach for this (or at least from case to case).

  2. I have a similar approach. The main difference is I don´t spend to much time analysing other clubs at the moment of selling the players. I buy or sign players on free transfer only to sell them to clubs in my league and many times i take lower fees (o no fee) for clubs in my league rather than accepting an offer for a foreign club.

  3. I usually do exactly the same thing in a dynasty save as I like to call it.
    The only difference is in the initial bids when trying to sell players.
    Usually it goes like this:
    a) 2xvalue+20% next profit
    b) value+30% next profit
    c) 0+50% next profit

    Currently in the year 2020 with Dinamo in Croatia. The league is 13th in Europe, from 18th at the start of the game and top 6 out of 10 clubs get to play in Europe.

  4. There is one main problem with this approach. AI tends to be less than “intelligent”. You cannot trust AI teams on constantly strengthening their squads. Many AI teams sell players for fees way smaller than those they paid for buying them and replace them with more expensive and worse ones. At my save Real paid 90+ million euros for a regen and released him after 3 or 4 years for free…

    1. This is slightly different I don’t need them to be intelligent I just need them to bid which they do. It’s not an issue and the league is currently the 3rd best in the world, so it’s proof that it’s working 🙂

      The AI isn’t actually that bad on this save and the top sides are already buying well and building strong squads. In fact Corinthians have one of the best squads I’ve seen and have players like Dybala, Nathan, Adryan, Everton Ribero, Kranvitter etc.

  5. I don’t doubt that it’s working. But it could work better if AI teams were a little more sensible. You can easily maintain a competitive team of your own for a long time with 5-6 good transfers but you must keep selling players to AI teams in order to keep them competitive.

  6. I’ve never done this, but I’ve considered to do it for a good while. I haven’t, though, because I either am in a one team career in a big country or in a journeyman career where I don’t expect to be in for long enough for it to have results before I move on to another country. Besides, I want to go more deeply into the development side of the game before looking into a more solid transfer policy including improving my league.

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